Timeline for a District Attorney to Bring Criminal Charges against an Accused

This is another one of those situations where the individual states having varying statutes of limitations on various crimes, types, levels, and if it is a repeat offense.  Many experts from various states noted that the district attorney has up to one year in most states and up to two years in a number on remaining states.  This is one year – two year limitation is for first time offenses, usually misdemeanors.  As crimes become more serious, as is a felony, or a more serious class or level of offense, or if this a repeat offense, the limitation value often increases.  In serious crimes, the accused may be jailed until an arraignment, but it is unlikely that the courts would allow that long a jail time without charges to occur.

The amount of time taken by a district attorney to bring charges can be simply due to workload.  Most courts and DAs want to bring the more serious charges to court sooner.  Sometimes a court is simply overwhelmed by the amount of cases and workload it has.  Other times it is the amount of time needed to investigate the crime(s) involved.  Interviewing witnesses, forensics, and the like, all add time to such an investigation.  Sometimes it is simply trying to find time for an arraignment in the court’s very busy schedules.  The DA has to be very organized, filing papers for charges with the court, arranging whatever needs to be arranged.  In the meantime, a person who is likely to be accused can have his or her lawyer active and seeking to have whatever chargeable situation dismissed, or delayed with appropriate defense filings.  As a point of process, a number of lawyers noted that the district attorney’s office will send a letter to inform a person that the DA is moving ahead and filing charges against that person.  The letter will most likely also be a notice of a hearing to be held for the bringing of these charges to court, requiring that person to appear.  If the person fails to appear, the court will issue what is known as a bench warrant.  Many people who have been on the wrong end of a bench warrant will swear that the warrant is served at the most embarrassing and inconvenient time.  It is the person being served who has the responsibility for being on top of what is occurring.  It was noted that the person’s address on file with the state DMV is typically the source for a mailing, such as a court notice.  It is the person being accused who has the responsibility for insuring that the address that is on file is correct so that the notice is delivered as expected in a timely manner by snail mail.  It was also noted by the experts and lawyers that the courts have no obligation of giving notice that no charges will be filed or that an arrest has been dismissed.  It is expected, again, that the accused and the accused’s lawyer are keeping track of what is going on and keeping themselves aware.

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